A new year stretches out before us. I feel a mixture of hope and dread when I consider the clean slate of another year of life, knowing that I will write upon that slate not only with beautiful flourishes but also with dark stains.
Positioning my heart to have my hope in God rather than in myself does not happen automatically, however. I have to seek and pursue him. One of the scriptures we included in our Declare Advent Devotional makes me catch my breath:
“When the set time had fully come, God sent his son, born of a woman, born under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship. Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, ‘Abba, Father.’ So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir.” Galatians 4:4-7 (NIV)
My heart races!
Have I received adoption to daughterhood, or do I live as an orphan? The verse says that we “might” receive adoption which communicates that God created the possibility of adoption, but I have to receive it.
Unfortunately, my natural default is to live more as an orphan than as a child. An orphan, like a slave, feels that she does not have a right to receive care; she does not have a place at the table. She has to work to earn her keep because her value is based on what she does, not who she is. She has no inheritance.
An orphan suspects that there is not enough to go around; there is a scarcity of resources. If someone else gets something good, the orphan easily feels jealous. I cannot feel happy for another because her gain is my loss.
Jesus created the way for us to become God’s children, and yet with an orphan mindset, we can live as if we do not have an inheritance.
I desire to become an heir, but how do I receive adoption? Jesus purchased for us the right to become daughters of God, but ironically we must position ourselves first as a bond servant. What?
Christ himself is our best example of how to walk as a child of God. Take note of this shocking description of Jesus, “who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant….” Philippians 2: 6-7 (NIV)
Neither entitlement nor self-promotion can create a genuine spirit of daughterhood. The deep sense of one’s elevated position in the kingdom comes from humbly seeing oneself first as a bond slave. It is neither my demands nor my lofty self-concept that make me a daughter, but instead, it is God reaching out his hand to me and inviting me to become an heir.
When James and John asked to sit on Jesus’ right hand, their master replied, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or to be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?… Whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man came not to be served, but to serve….” Mark 10: 38, 44-45 (NIV)
Jesus knew that we would be drawn to the glory, but he also knew that the only way to glory is to bend low at the cross and receive new life through appropriating his death. He compassionately calls us to yearn to live as daughters, but he never minimizes the cost.
We pray that you receive the vision of all that is available to you as a confident daughter of the King this year.
We bless you to see both the beautiful flourishes and the dark stains, not as a slave who has to fight for her own way, but as a daughter who receives a vast inheritance from a generous father, full of good plans and hope for the future!